database helps sift news sources into categories other than fake

I hope that CBS keeps re-posting this every few weeks so that we all can keep re-posting it, too.


An even more comprehensive list with much deeper and wider categorizations than just “fake” was started late last year by Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College.
It started as a Google doc for her class, and has now become a GitHub database you can download at
Her November article in the Washington Post offers more background. It’s very much worth reading.

Is It Just About Fake News?

By now we all know that The Onion is satire, right?
Satire is *not* fake news. It’s not even news. It’s satire.
Besides The Onion, sites classified as satire include The Borowtiz Report and, the latter which gets an additional tag of ‘unreliable’.
I think it’s important to understand – and the web site explanations help to make this clear – that there are important and meaningful differences between category tags like ‘fake’, ‘conspiracy’, ‘political’,’clickbait’, and ‘credible’.
Those explanations are worth reading and considering as you look at their database.
So, despite the endless stream of material coming from Trump and his administration, I suspect most of us would agree that satire isn’t the problem with the news these days.
What I think the big problem we’re having right now with news and so-called news is two-fold.

The Problem with “News”

First, it’s with the devotees of nut-jobs like Alex Jones and InfoWars. (I refuse to even link to him and his site.)
Like the president, Jones and his ilk are con-men. Their fans and sycophants seem to refuse to see them and people like them as such.
The Trump business model, the business model of InfoWars, and the business model of people and sites like them is simple; make tons of money lying and perpetuating conspiracies.
Conspiracies, as everyone knows, aren’t based in facts and, when spread with conviction and lies, they become the easiest way to dupe people into believing the simplest, most convenient, and most self-serving explanation.
The other problem with news as I see it is with people like me who have,
a) become lazy while,
b) buying into the vilifying of mainstream media.

No, No One is Perfect, but….

Do I have to say it? No one and no organization is perfect.
That applies equally to everyone; from the New York Times and CBS, to Fox News and Breitbart, right down to you and me.
Mistakes will happen. What real journalists and real news outlets do is they publish corrections when mistakes are discovered. The others do not.
So with that out of the way, let me suggest a new twist on the old saying that if it’s too good to be true it probably is.
“If you see a headline or read an article that strikes you as unbelievable – or that too conveniently fits into your narrative – it may not be actual news journalism.”

What to Do?

One of the ways I’ve always tried to be as informed as possible is to not take too much for granted that comes across social media if I don’t already know and trust the source.
I now see this database as another helpful tool when it comes to that.
And, yes, I’m committing to being less lazy and to reading articles first before Liking and Sharing them. I haven’t always done that.
Lots of us are guilty of that.  That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn today that 60% of links get shared without ever having been clicked.
All I’m really surprised by is that the number is that low.

Know the Source and the Difference

The outlets in the database aren’t limited to right-leaning outlets like….
  • The American Thinker (tagged as ‘biased’),
  • Breitbart (tagged as political, unreliable, and biased),
  • Drudge Report (political and biased) and,
  • The Daily Caller (political, clickbait, and biased).
The database also includes sources I have read and will go on reading.
On that list are sources like Common Dreams (tagged as ‘political’ and ‘clickbait’) and The Daily Beast (tagged as ‘political’). I agree with those assessments. It doesn’t make them “fake” news, just as none of the aforementioned conservative sites were tagged as Fake.
Biased? Yes.
Political? Yes.
Even Unreliable? In the case of Breitbart, yes, but not Fake.
What I’m also going to be is more skeptical going forward about anything I see from sources like….
  • PoliticusUSA (clickbait and unreliable),
  • Occupy Democrats (clickbait, biased, and unreliable) and,
  • The Anti Media (unreliable, biased, and conspiracy).
What do they all have in common?  They’ve been tagged as Unreliable.

What About You?

I wonder, then, if readers of….
  • Breitbart
  • The Gateway Pundit (biased, conspiracy, and unreliable),
  • The Washington Examiner (unreliable, biased, and conspiracy)

….and lots of other sources listed in the database who aren’t categorized as Fake but who are tagged as Unreliable are willing to say the same?


Author: Peaceful Patriot

Proud middle class husband, father, and progressive liberal. Registered Non-Partisan but have much more in common with Democrats than Republicans. Consider Libertarians to be immature and underdeveloped in their understanding of reality. An atheist who doesn't care what you believe so long as you stop pretending the Founding Fathers intended for you to legislatively force your beliefs on everyone else. Laughs out loud in mocking disdain at the abject lunacy of birthers, climate science deniers, and hard core tea partiers. If that offends you, too bad. You're not rational and have no place at the adult table.

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